Forensic Examiner: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Forensic examiners provide scientific evaluations of evidence that is used to aid law enforcement investigations and court cases. These professionals typically complete a bachelor's degree program in forensic science or a related field, such as chemistry and biology.

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Job Description for a Forensic Examiner

Forensic examiners, also known as forensic science technicians or crime scene investigators, analyze physical evidence and provide scientific conclusions for the justice system. They provide analytical assistance and expert opinions used during law enforcement investigations, criminal court cases, civilian court cases and regulatory proceedings. Examiners can be generalists or specialize in one of many fields, including:

  • Accounting
  • Ballistics
  • DNA
  • Fingerprinting
  • Pathology
  • Questioned documents
  • Toxicology

Duties of a Forensic Examiner

Forensic examiners are responsible for collecting and preserving the integrity of evidence at crime scenes. They collect hair, fiber and blood samples, lift fingerprints and footprints, make measurements and take photographs. In the laboratory, examiners use equipment and chemical solutions to classify materials and identify unique characteristics, such as the markings that match a bullet to a particular firearm.

Forensic examiners are also responsible for documenting their findings and creating detailed reports. Their analysis can be used to recreate crime scenes, confirm or rule out a suspect's involvement, determine a cause of death and verify handwriting on documents.

Salary and Employment Outlook

Between 2012 and 2022, employment was expected to grow by 6% for forensic science technicians, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted. The BLS reported in May 2012 that forensic science technicians saw a median income of $52,840.

Requirements to Become a Forensic Examiner

Forensic examiners are generally required to complete a bachelor's degree program in a science related area, such as forensics, biology, chemistry or physics. Relevant coursework includes English composition, genetics, statistics and geometry. Experience with laboratory equipment and techniques can provide a competitive advantage, though most employers provide at least some training on the job.

Working examiners typically must take continuing education courses provided by professional organizations, such as the American Board of Criminalistics (ABC), American College of Forensic Examiners International (ACFEI) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The ABC and ACFEI also offer voluntary certification programs in different forensic fields that validate an examiner's expertise and can enhance employment opportunities. Generally, examiners must complete a bachelor's degree program and have at least two years of experience to be eligible to receive a certification.

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